Perhaps some of the most valuable real estate in California, the Ring Mountain Preserve was saved from development by the Nature Conservancy and placed in trust in 1984. Situated on the ritzy Tiburon peninsula jutting out into San Francisco Bay, this urban park is one of many gems in Marin County, but unlike most, Ring Mountain was not property of the U.S. Government before being preserved as a park. On a clear day, the views from the park are spectacular. On a foggy day, with the right conditions, the park is still spectacular.
The fire road trail starting at the west tip of the park is popular, but the better access point to the preserve is on Paradise Drive using the Phyllis Ellman Trail. Take this trail to access either to the peak itself or one of the loop trails around its shoulders. From the limited parking on Paradise, the trail quickly starts to climb. In a few hundred feet the trail splits; going left on the Loop Trail leads over bare, round hills and among scattered live oaks. Near the top of this loop you're rewarded with distant views of San Francisco and the Richmond/San Rafael and Bay Bridges. From the top of the loop, take the fire road to the top or head down a short way to pick up the Phyllis Ellman Trail back down to the parking area.
Ring Mountain Preserve is not only a scenic gem in the heart of the Bay Area, it is also a unique plant laboratory. Due to the mineral serpentine present in the soils, some rare plants that are tolerant of what would normally be toxic effects are found here. Most notably, the Tiburon mariposa lily (Calochortus tiburonensis) is found only on Ring Mountain’s slopes.